Friday, April 29, 2011

Emceeing a State Pageant

I was invited to be the emcee for a State pageant of a pageant I competed in when I was younger. Of course I accepted – another chance to wear my crown & banner! It was a lot of fun seeing these young girls on stage overcoming their nerves & showing us what they can do!! My mom was a judge, & so were two of our friends from Virginia. It was a great weekend of laughing & pageantry. I was so happy to see that some of our International Pageant Family turned up for the event!

As I’ve said before, I really enjoy all things pageantry & talking with the girls about how it has changed their lives already. It’s amazing!

Ashley Smith

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Arkansas International

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE 2011 Titleholders…I will see you in Chicago in 2 months and a few days…WOW!

I had the most amazing time attending the Arkansas International Pageants! If you keep up with the blog, I posted about my dear friend , Christina Stengel, Mrs. Arkansas 2010. During the week of Mrs. International, I became friends with Christina pretty much immediately. So, of course, it was more than a treat to visit her state, meet the 2011 delegates, and participate in all of the events Bernee’ had planned for us. The ladies in Arkansas definitely know how to have a good time and put on a great show!

The lyrics to the fun fashion song said it best, “I’ve had the time of my life” (the new, fun remix) sum up my time in Arkansas. I did have a GREAT time with Christina, Kohl, and Mollie…well, maybe too much fun!

My Kodak Queen, Christina. Such a gem...and an amazing cook! Thank you for the cupcakes and making sure I had everything I needed (you made sure I had my supply of gummies and skittles).

Mollie and Kohl make me feel “Forever Young”! I know these ladies will continue to do amazing things in the future!

Kohl and I are so much alike it’s scary! She made me laugh the entire weekend and I even had her mother mastering heel stretches. LOL! I know we will have a mini-reunion sometime in the near future!

Miss Mollie. Cute as can be, sweet as she looks and talented too!! Her ballet en pointe presentation was a definite highlight of the show!

Signing autographs before the show with Bernee’ the Arkansas Executive Director

A HUGE thank you to Rick and Bernee’ for all that you did to make me feel like true royalty but also a part of your family! You made sure I had EVERYTHING I could possibly need and more! I love you guys!

It is hard to believe I have less than 3 months left as Mrs. International. Even though, I will miss the “royal treatment”…the memories will last a lifetime and for that I am Forever grateful!

I love you guys! Thanks for an amazing weekend! Christina, Kohl, Mollie, Bernee’ and Mr. Rick, thank you for making me feel like family! I will never forget my D-bits in Arkansas!

Until next post, remain blessed!

Shannon Devine

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

American Heart Association Health Fair

Last week, I was able to work at a booth for the American Heart Association at a Health Fair in Maryland. It was outside on the grounds of a retirement community, & everyone who came by our booth was interested in learning more about being heart healthy or had stories about what made them switch to being heart healthy. There was even a woman there who said, “Well I’ve had 2 heart attacks, I guess a stroke is going to be next so tell me about that!” That really broke my heart because it should not be like that! It shouldn’t be just because you are getting older that you have resigned to the fact that you are going to be unhealthy. I was glad that I was able to share information with these people & encourage them to get their blood pressure checked.

I was actually very in to chatting with these people, not just about the American Heart Association, but also about their grandchildren & great grandchildren and all of those fun things! I was glad to be a bright point in their day! So glad in fact that when I got home I realized that I only took ONE picture! And that was almost right after we got there. So I’m sorry for the lack of pictures in this post. It was not the biggest turn out for a Health Fair, but I know that we touched some lives, & that’s what matters!

Ashley Smith

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

My First Published Work

I was asked to write a story for Insights Magazine, a nationally published and distributed magazine aimed at American children who enjoy outdoor sports and an active lifestyle. In writing the article, I worked closely with the editor of the magazine to construct a piece which highlighted all of my diverse roles, especially my roles as Miss Teen International and as a daughter, sister, and student. In the article, I also shared one of the parts of my role as daughter, target shooting at target ranges, a bonding activity which has brought my dad and I close throughout my teen years which has empowered me with the sense of responsibility and confidence I needed in order to succeed in pageantry, school, and other aspects of life.

They selected a candid photo, taken at DC Fashion Week this past September, of me in my crown, sash, and beautiful Sherri Hill cocktail dress, supplied by Joey Rutherford of the Competitive Image. As a college sophomore majoring in communications, it was really exciting to see my work printed in a national publication- I hope to be able to publish more of my writing soon!

Juliana McKee

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Sunday

He is RISEN! I wanted to do something extra special for Easter Sunday since it was our first Easter in Washington, DC. Through my google skills, I found out about a Sunrise Easter Sunday Service at the Lincoln Memorial. Well, “sunrise” would usually deter me because I am not a fan of early mornings, but of course Easter is a very special occasion so I made an exception.

We arrived at about 6:15am to a huge crowd of people on the steps of the memorial, in folding chairs in front, and standing with their loved ones on the lawn all to be a part of this service together. It was so special to see the sun coming up by the Washington Monument in the distance while we sang songs about this happy day!! It was such a wonderful experience! I’m not going to pretend that I got up early enough to be “camera ready,” but I did take some pictures of what we experienced. The pictures of course don’t do it justice, but it was a wonderful way to celebrate our Lord!

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter with family & friends!

Ashley Smith

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The National Cherry Blossom Festival

On Sunday, April 10th, I was invited to emcee the closing ceremonies of the National Cherry Blossom festival. This event was arranged by WKPR, the official PR agency for the International System. Did I mention, if you win nationals, you will have use of WKPR to coordinate events and appearances?

Denise and Zoe of WKPR do a fabulous job so when I reached out to them to say that I would like to have a Cherry Blossom Festival appearance they snapped into action and arranged everything for me.

It was fabulous and a beautiful spring like day in Washington, DC. Unfortunately, most of the cherry blossoms had come off of the trees from a storm several days before. My role was to announce performers and emcee the ceremonies at the Sylvan Theater which is at the foot of the Washington Monument.

Sometimes, we Washingtonians, take for granted the history and beauty of our city since we live and work here everyday.

Once again, I had to remove my crown and sash at the end in order to be able to make a getaway for a family dinner at my Grandmother’s house.

I was surrounded by tourists who had come from all over the world to witness this very event. They were so excited to have “Miss Teen International” in their presence and wanted to make sure that they got photos with me before returning to their countries.

It was a lot of fun and something I have always wanted to do. Thank you to the ladies at WKPR for making my dream become reality.

Juliana McKee

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

AHA Zumbathon & the Washington Wizards Basketball

On Saturday, I was asked to oversee the AHA booth at the Washington Wizards Basketball game. Miss Teen China, Lauren Yee joined me, as she also does quite a bit of volunteering with the American Heart Association.

We arrived, collected our VIP passes and went to work! After we got everything set up, we went down to the court to watch the Washington Wizards and Atlanta Seahawks warm-up.

It is amazing to hear some of the stories of those who have been touched by heart disease. It reinforces that heart disease touches everyone in some way. The night was full of photos, lots of educating and photos.

There was a Zumbathon for the half time show and we were so excited to meet the facilitators. They gave Lauren and I some great Zumba bracelets! At halftime , we were taken down the special elevator to the floor where we were announced and watched the Zumbathon performance. It was so much fun! Zumba, which is a form of dance and aerobics, has an official partnership with the American Heart Association.

The highlight of the night was meeting a group of ninth grade students from a school in South Carolina. They brought their school nutritionist on their trip to Washington, DC, who was especially excited to hear about how both the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and the American Heart Association have programs to work with teens and young adults.

My Mom made an observation about the power of the “crown and sash”. During halftime, when we were down on the courts, there was no activity at the booth even though there were plenty of people milling about. However, when Lauren and I were working the booth, we were continually busy talking to people and taking photos with fans. I always have felt that the crown and sash is the best microphone to promote a platform, an idea that is clearly true at events like this one!

Juliana McKee